Any time NBA commissioner David Stern makes a comment about the NBA coming to Europe, it makes big headlines throughout the European basketball scene. This time around, Stern says an NBA division in Europe may not come into being while he is in office. He also talks about the competition for which teams would take part in the NBA.
Here a transcript of the NBA in Europe portion of Stern’s interview on October 26, 2009 with ESPN personality Colin Cowherd on his daily talk show “The Herd”.
Cowherd: Many believe you would be the first league to have a European team. Is that a bunch of blather? Are you going to do it? Or would you do it?
Stern: I think that it will be done. I don’t know if it will be done under my watch. We’ve played in London going back well over a decade. We played regular season games in Japan almost 20 years ago.
Cowherd: Yeah but you can’t go there, that’s too far.
Stern: No, but I think there’s a good chance out there that not one team – you know the NFL can do one team because when you have a week off between games it doesn’t make travel as difficult to a team as it might be. For us, the NBA, I’ve said this to European audiences for the last several years the NBA at some point in the future will more likely have a division there than a team.
Cowherd: Yeah, that makes sense. I just want to make sure you have one in Barcelona. Don’t stick one in Düsseldorf. Who wants to go there?
Stern: It’s good for competition. It’s either Barcelona or Madrid. It’s either Milan or Rome. I think it’s London.
Cowherd: Do they care about the NBA?
Stern: Oh yeah.
Cowherd: London does?
Stern: Well, put it like this, we were there two weeks ago or so and we sold out 18,600 for the second year in a row. Fans watched the Jazz play the Bulls in an NBA pre-season game. It was carried on ESPN. In London, it was carried by BBC Behind the Button, which is their digital platform. It was greatly received all good media and the like. And then we moved onto Madrid where the Jazz played Real Madrid. And then we moved onto Taipei, where the Indiana Pacers played Denver. And then we moved onto Beijing where they played again. And then Philadelphia played Phoenix in Monterrey. So we think those are all good markets. But we’re not in a big hurry to put permanent teams there.